REFLECTIONS ON ALASKA TRIP

The trip was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the boat and the systems on board.  In the early days of the trip I had to undertake a lot of maintenance as the boat hadn’t been in use full time.  During the trip I suffered no major failures and am confident the boat is strongly built, sturdy and a capable offshore cruiser.

The Dickenson cabin heater was wonderful on cold nights as were the two oil lamps in the salon, without their warmth it would have been tough on cold wet days.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get in any really consistent sailing for prolonged periods of time that is essential to really get a feel for the boat under sail.  But the sailing I did showed the boat to be well balanced and able to steer with the wind vane self-steering quite easily.  Not having a fridge on board was no problem in Alaska and BC, but I do worry how I will keep the beer cold when I venture into warmer climes.

A couple of people have asked me if I would do the Alaska trip again.  The answer is a qualified no.  I really enjoyed the experience, Alaska is an awesome place, wild rugged, scenic and spectacular and populated with some very interesting people.  The people I met along the way were predominantly American and Canadian with a few other nationalities thrown in.  The Alaskan people are very friendly, but there are quite a few who don’t really conform to mainstream America, characters, odd balls, eccentrics, or miss fits – call them what you will, but all were welcoming, generous and good fun.

An experience and adventure not to be missed and without the interaction of the local people the trip would have been merely a scenic cruise.  Alaska is also a place that can be wet, windy, foggy and cold, it’s not a soft place for single handing a sail boat.  As for wind, it tends to run up and down the channels and straits, a sailing boat usually has the wind on the nose according to sods law.  Significant motoring is required to make any significant headway.

To get the most out of a trip by boat to Alaska a motorboat is preferable, many people use heavier displacement trawler type motor yachts where they can be sheltered from the elements and still have a good view of the outside world.  It’s interesting to note that the people I met on motor boats reported more bear sightings than people on yachts.  I think this was due to the fact that the motorboats had good views from protected environment when at anchor.  A motor boat with a decent speed of around nine knots also makes passages between anchorages possible in a small weather window and allows strong tidal flows to be handled easier.  So Alaska is a place not to me missed.  Now there are so many other places calling and so little time.

Some facts and figures from the Alaska Voyages: –

Total distance – 2,753.7 miles (4,432Km)

Ports and anchorages – 97

Sailing time – 134 hours (non motor sailing)

Engine Hours – 563

Fuel Consumption – 764 Ltr (202 gals.)

Oil Changes – 3

Costs of living – NZ$35 per day

I will continue to post occasional blogs and updates throughout the year until I take off again in March on the next leg of the journey, south and west.

BACK IN NEW ZEALAND

I have been back in New Zealand for ten days now.  So good to see family again, but It’s difficult to transition from being a freewheeling sailor to the role of domestic slave, taking orders from the ‘Boss’ wife.  The creature comforts of home are however a welcome change, having a hot shower on tap is a true luxury.

Milford beach, North Shore City. Auckland
Milford beach looking out to Rangitoto. New Zealand

Truce is sitting on the hard in Canoe Cove Marina.  I put her to bed as best I could as I was hindered by my cracked ribs.  Everything is stowed away but I am concerned about the damp that may get into the boat over the winter.  When on the hard I will get a few maintenance works done so come spring we are in good shape to go again.

My health is excellent after the trip, I feel fit and relaxed but have lost about 6 Kg in weight and now weigh around 77Kg.  (170lbs).  I ate very well on the trip so my weight loss seems to be caused by three things, being overweight in the first place, burning up calories in cold weather doing physical stuff and not eating processed food and sugary snacks.

I suffered from some distress to my hands before they hardened up to sailing and a few aches and pains from using muscles not normally pressed into service.  My fall and cracked ribs I take as a (painful) lesson to plan better and complete one job at a time when single handing.

Now I am back in New Zealand I am looking forward to the summer and some warm weather and catching up with all the little odd jobs and other tedious bureaucratic pains of shore life.  Houses (like boats) need maintenance and there is some of that to do as well.  I also need to do some paid work and harvest some money for the cruising coffers, I will look for some ship delivery work which I enjoy.

Next I will post some thoughts about my trip to Alaska.

 

BLOWN INTO VICTORIA

Port San Juan,Causeway Marina,Victoria,Canoe Cove

After a few hours sleep joggling around in Snuggery Cove Truce and I set off on the last leg of the voyage down to Victoria.  The forecast was for North Westerly forty knot winds – but they were in our favour so no point in hanging around.

Moored opposite the Empress Hotel Victoria. Photo Ray Penson
Moored opposite the Empress Hotel Victoria. Photo Ray Penson

In the chill dark and damp morning at four I heaved up the anchor and set off, radar on as the visibility was poor and four knots as there are logs and stuff floating around in the dark.  By five the visibility had improved and the wind was freshening with the effects of the big Pacific Swells being felt as they rolled down the Juan de Fuca Strait.  By six I had the jib set and we motor sailed at a steady six and a half knots all the way down to Race Rocks.

At Race rocks there is a great tide flow and we shot through at ten knots as the wind picked up to forty knots from the west and blew us up into Victoria Harbour.  A fast trip and a good way to end the voyage.  Truce is berthed in Causeway Marina in the heart of the city.  A perfect spot for a tourist, one of the best rooms in town.

I will spend a couple of days in Victoria and head up for Canoe Cove on Monday where Truce will be laid up for the winter.  I will update the log as I prepare the boat for a few months of winter storage.  At this time, I am expecting to start the next voyage on Truce in March next year, when we will go south, to warmer weather.  Total voyage distance 1,096.3 miles.